Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike AND A Few Books For your Consideration by Freerange Oyster

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it!  For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is:

A Few Books For your Consideration by Freerange Oyster

Pam Uphoff

Fort Dinosaur

The Directorate Book 6

Ebsa has escaped from his dreary desk job, leaping joyfully into a scientific study of a cross-dimensional world full of Dinosaurs… his job? Protect too many over-enthusiastic and not terribly practical scientists from their subjects, aided by his thrown-together team of desk-jockeys who liked their former jobs and an Action Team with a nasty reputation.

Sam Schall

Battle Wounds

Honor and Duty

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has faced the realities of war. Death is her constant companion, an unwelcome one. After losing four of her company in an ambush that never should have happened, she is asked to accept a special mission. Command suspects a traitor has infiltrated their ranks and they want Ash and others to act as bait in an attempt to draw them out.

Worse, at least as far as Ash is concerned, FleetCom is focusing on only one possible explanation for the ambush. That narrow view could lead to even more deaths before those responsible for betraying Fuercon are identified. All Ashlyn can do is keep her eyes and ears open and pray the Marines onboard the Dresden are as dedicated to keeping Fuercon safe as are the Devil Dogs.

And God help the traitor should Ashlyn discover their identity. No one betrays home and Corps and gets away with it.

Sarah A. Hoyt

Darkship Revenge


The popular Darkship series returns!

After winning the civil war in Eden, Athena returns to her calling, collecting powerpods with her husband Kit. Now weeks away from Earth, she goes into labor. To make matters worse, a strange ship attacks Athena and Kit’s Cathouse and kidnaps Athena’s husband. That ship is called Je Reviens. It’s a named steeped in history—and not the good kind of history.

Hot on Kit’s trail, Athena discovers that you shouldn’t name a ship Je Reviens unless you intend it to return. The genetically modified Mules are back, and they have a plan to prevent themselves from being exiled ever again. And if the Mules win, the best thing humanity can hope for is slavery.

The worst is death.

While a bio-engineered plague wreaks havoc on the forces of liberty, Athena must risk herself, her husband, and her child for the survival of humanity.

The Mules may be about to find out what revenge truly is: one angry mother.

Elise Hyatt

A Fatal Stain

Daring Finds Book 3


When Dyce Dare buys a table to refinish, the last thing she expects is to find a human blood stain under the amateurish finish. Whose blood is it? What happened to the person who bled on the table?
Helped and hindered by her fiance, Cas Wolfe, her friend Ben, her son E and an imaginary llama named Ccelly, Dyce must find the killer and the victim, before the killer finds her.

Blake Smith

By the Light of the Moon


Aatu is eighteen years old, a respectable landowner, and about to marry the girl he loves. The south coast of Finland provides everything his little village requires.

It’s a peaceful life, until a band of ex-Crusaders land on the shore. With the harsh winter and lean times approaching, they cannot be allowed to stay for long. When their priests disturb things best left alone, Aatu fears a minor annoyance will become a disaster.

Aatu’s people turn to the old ways to fight the enemy, to teeth and claws instead of swords and spears. Though they are outnumbered and unused to fighting, Aatu is about to discover that wild wolves are not the most fearsome predators in this land, and even the most peaceful people can become ferocious in defense of the ones they love.

62 thoughts on “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike AND A Few Books For your Consideration by Freerange Oyster

  1. “Tabletop fusion? Even if it works, do you really want that? And the name you’re using has a bad history.”

    “Aw come on. I’ll just fire it up.”

    “Not this close. We go a good distance, behind that berm at least.”



    “You expected anything else from your DeskStar?”

  2. Another week, another vignette prompting, another parade of paralyzingly painful putrescent puns. The question before us is whether it is nobler to read on to the horrendous end or simply recognize the inevitable conclusion to this route and simply start the ritual pounding of our heads on our desks now.

      1. Mr. Samuel Morse sat at the Pun Desk, handing out Pun Dits and Pun Dahs, saying, “Some assembly required.”

        1. If a pun is the lowest form of wit, does that mean a pundit is the lowest form of journalist?

    1. it could be worse. Here’s worse:

      A man left his portable desk,
      To his eldest as a bequest,
      With the only condition,
      “Make puns of perdition,”
      And his long suffering wife got the rest.

        1. Limericks are not verse, they’re the obverse. Limericks ought not be seen, they should be obscene. Limericks should not be heard, they should be absurd.

          1. Little Miss Muffet decided to rough-it
            And purchased a castle – medieval.
            Along came a spider
            Who plied her with cider…

            Awwwww, but it is PG-13, I promise. See *holds up forefeet* paws are not crossed!

            1. “So, you style yourself the newest mistress of the castle?” Miss Muffet heard the whispering voice echoing all around her, the sibilants slicing through the dark like daggers from all directions. She turned, seeking the source, peering around the dusty, cobwebbed castle chamber. “Fancy a rustic ruin as your lair?”
              “A refuge, rather.” She replied, apologetically. Of course there’d be servants; castles always had them, and a castle this full of old secrets and shadowed magic would have its own unhappy servitors.
              “Oh, a refuge? And who have you aggrieved that will come hunting you?” There was a clicking sound, overhead, and Miss Muffet knew, then, what she faced.
              “Have I wronged you? What grudge do you hold?” Fire. Fire against spiders, light to illumine the darkness, and heat to burn the threads that bind, the claws that catch… She readied a rune in the palm of her hand.
              “I hold many grudges. I nurse them, and when they die, I stuff them and mount them, and display them on the proper anniversaries. Would you like to see my collection? You can join it.” Closer, the clicking now.
              “I’d rather you spin a tale for me, or a dress. I had to leave everything behind when they tried to drown me; even this dress is stolen from a laundress.” She plucked at the stained wool.
              “Then how did you pay for the land? Or did you steal it, too?” The spider had frozen, curiosity overcoming malice.
              “I did a favour for the lord of Twilight’s Vale, and he gave me a cache of roman coins in trade, and the name of the title holder. Said he preferred me as a neighbor to the human who hides in sunlight and far-away towns.” She had the rune in hand, now, ready to burn the whole place down.
              “Lord Dhu?” There was a soft thump, then, and a subtle glow swelled in the room. All the cobwebs in the place were alight, now, making a gleaming curtain that cast no shadows, but turned blackness into gloom. “If you befriended him, then I make my peace with you. There’s no future in enmity with the likes of him.”
              Miss Muffet eyed her servant – she was indeed a spider, from the waist down, with a torso white as bleached bone, hair like jet and a corset of scarlet chitin that warned by its hourglass shape of the danger in the gleaming black eyes. “I go by Miss Muffet. What do you prefer to be called?”
              “Widow Arachne.” Needle-like teeth gleamed. “Come. I shall escort you to the cellars, so no one else will bother you on the way, and we may pass the night discussing the true nature of this pit. But pray tell me, what was the favour that he asked of you? Are you a witch, to have men seeking to drown you? Or a were, to slip away?”
              “That’s three questions to add to your tally. Are you seeking to add to the secrets that you know, or reveal them? And why the cellars?”
              Widow Arachne laughed, clicking her legs together. “Oh! Because that’s where we store the cider. The last master had us press it from the grove of the dark gate, and we have done so faithfully… but we’re not allowed to drink it without permission. Which I’m sure you’ll give, as you meet us all.”
              “I may. I may not. How badly do you all behave when drunk?” She raised an eyebrow, and the spider chittered a laugh.
              “How bad do you want us to be? Nobody has to know…” Arachne blew a kiss.
              “Mmm, let’s see how clever your hands are at dressing me, and then we’ll discuss what cleverness you’ll be up to.”
              “Oh, cruel mistress. Cruel! Antici….” She flung open a door, walked through, then turned around. “..pation is a torture all its own!”
              “So you’re saying you don’t want the cider til the dark of the moon?” Miss Muffet gestured at the waxing crescent out one leaded window, and Arachne gave a little scream of delight. The scream hit a different note when Muffet lit the room by firey runelight as she entered. “Lead on, my merry widow.”

  3. He sat down with the scroll in front of him. He placed his hands on either side of it and contemplated it. Carefully he unrolled it on the desk and started reading. Secrets to the universe were rumoured to be here. Darkness roiled underneath the surface unseen by the reader.

    1. Unbeknownst by the reader, the other side of the scroll said, “Warning! This side up. Read all instructions before reading the other side.”

  4. “Here you go: an item related to computers that can hold a vast quantity of information.”

    “You got me there. Still, that looks more like something you’d put a computer on; I don’t think it’ll fit *in* a computer.”

    “You did say you were looking for a computer desk, right?”

  5. “You need to clean your desk”, Eric said.

    I looked at my desktop. It’s littered with splotches of paint and dried globs of glue from art projects. Stacks of my writing, because I still insist on a hard copy. It’s organized chaos.

    “No”, I answered. “It’s perfect the way it is.”

  6. Marge looked down at the battered antique. “A portable desk. So?”

    Ed forced it open, removing folded papers from a drawer. “From these signatures, it was Button Gwinnett’s.”

    She silently whistled. “Those papers are worth a fortune. Where did Snooks get them?”

    “The answer could tell us who killed him.”

    1. Button Gwinnett’s desk is in the basement of the Museum of History in the Capital Wasteland…

      1. Ah, but is it a portable desk. Those were once a common item. Have been fascinated by them ever since I saw plans for a version called a Captain’s Desk. This was in one of the sets of the Popular Mechanics Home Handyman. They were about the size of a large laptop. Jefferson had one, and maybe wrote the original Declaration of Independence on it. I’m assuming the desk you mention is the one listed in the inventory of items at the probate of his will. But what if there was a portable desk that wasn’t on his estate at the time of death? What if Gwinnett had it with him that fateful summer of 1776? And what if, in a false bottom, is one of the original Dunlap broadsides of the Declaration of Independence?

  7. Dark. Dust. Hoping for a warehouse fire ending. Inkwell: Neither flowers, chocolate milk, nor ink bottle. Are hearts, initials, Kilroys my “tats”, engraved by compasses of generations, and India ink; ballpoint ink, graphite smears? Is the long forgotten tome a tumor in my rack? Desks, too, sometimes long for death.

      1. Thank you. I should note that, when I was in third grade in the L.A. USD, the desk at which I sat was an antique with an inkwell. All in the classroom were, but I was jealous of that which still had an unbroken ink bottle. It was of the sort that teachers filled, when they ran dry, from a large supply bottle. Even in a kampong school, ink was a thing of the past.

    1. You can tell a good piece when the reader wants to go back and immediately reread the piece.
      Well done.

  8. “Do you even have a desk? Or is it books and ungraded papers all the way down?”

    “If you must know, I have graded and returned all the student papers, the four articles I peer-reviewed, and the eighteen requisition forms and two data requests.”

    She flounced off, never noticing that his computer and keyboard floated two centimeters above the surface.

  9. “…after that I just need to use a micro-B cable to hook the smartphone to the hub, which lets me use my keyboard, and mouse.” “Why don’t you just get a Desktop?” “It’s far too much work. This way I don’t need to worry about file versioning on different devices.”

  10. Help Wanted: Female
    I frowned and shook my head. No. These are all desk jobs; I wanna work outdoors!
    The Male openings included stream-guard. Yes! I’ll take it!
    My interviewer could not contain his laughter.
    “How you gonna stop a boatload’a outlaw fishermen from droppin’ a net in your stream?!”

  11. “Now, Mr. Carlson,” said Miss Smith, moving behind her desk again and typing something on the keyboard, “let me explain how we will proceed. I would like to go through a brief questionnaire with you, to determine your requirements and preferences. We also have some measurements. This will allow us to make your Angel the best one to meet your expectations. Will that be acceptable?”
    Jimmy allowed that it would.
    She had him hold a metal sphere in his hand, telling him it recorded heart rate, temperature, galvanic skin response, blood pressure ‘and so forth.’ “Gentlemen are sometimes reluctant to say what they actually prefer on certain subjects, particularly in front of a lady. Our instrumentation allows us to discern these preferences without asking questions that you might find uncomfortable.”
    Jimmy was already exceedingly uncomfortable just being there with her, so he was very grateful there would be no discussion of… things.

  12. I grabbed at the desk, fighting the maelstrom. Behind me, the breach in the wall grew larger, pulling everything that wasn’t secure into the void. It was getting harder to hang on, but what was beyond was worse than death. It was Hell itself.

  13. Ligonier Rafferty sat at the conference table he used as a desk and opened the letter. The ambassador had insisted on delivering it to his hand alone, to the point of coming to the chancery upon discovering he wasn’t at the Archbishop’s Residence.

    The letter was a single handwritten sentence: The three musketeers may yet ride again

    The words blurred and Ligonier dashed the tears away before they could fall. He reached for the rune-mirror, checked himself. Gorlath was a dark magus, which meant all magic comms must be regarded as suspect.

    Which meant Ligonier needed a suitable pretext to travel to Raus-ceil-quein and ask Miquail what he’d found out about Yanchi.

  14. Smythe-Jones put his feet under his desk, sharpened his quill and began to write. He wrote steadily for several hours, with a neat hand devoid of flourish. Finally laying down quill, he leaned back, putting both feet on the desk. Softly, pleadingly, Baldrick asked, “May I get up now, sir?”

  15. “Glad to leave your desk, no doubt,” said Blake with a sneer. “Leave the papers to us. Come back with crow feathers dyed black.”
    “Crow feathers I would write with,” I said, and put my papers away or occasionally packed one. Nothing I could say would penetrate Blake’s thick skin.

  16. At least until I got off the train, the only passenger. It headed off, making my skirts swirl in the wind, and leaving me alone with my luggage. I took a step forward. Inside, a clerk sat at his desk and did not so much as look up at me.

  17. Something bobbed on the waves. He thought it was a desk. Then something equally brown bobbed beside it, and the mermaid came up, her brown hair streaming.
    His mouth was dry. He could not move away. The sea-witch herself had bewitched him.
    She did not glance at him, but sang.

  18. She had to remind herself that the tree had had desks in it. Someone must sit at them at some point. Not every fae worked the fields, or cleaned house. Or, for that matter, as a knight in shining armor, defended the lands.
    She laughed. Longing for bureaucrats, how odd.

  19. In the dark corner of my mind I kept coming back to the question. I had read it in my youth. Time to time, through the passing years, I had considered it. Here, as I lay dying, that question still bothered me. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

  20. Fascinated, he watched her extract an apparently flat, featureless block of lacquered ebony, unfolding legs and braces, deftly erecting a tidy table just the right height for writing. Finishing, laying pen and paper on its top, Alice noted his attention and smiled. “Like it? I’ve had the Raven for ages.”

  21. He slowly sat down in front of the devil itself. With a shaking hand he tugged open the side drawer lunged his hand in and extracted a pencil before the drawer slammed shut of it’s own volition. He yanked open the center drawer and quickly snagged a pad of paper. That drawer too slammed shut almost catching his fingers. He gently placed pen and pad on the trembling surface of the desk that loathed his presence. He sighed and picked up the pencil and started carefully drawing. The low wooden growl tried distracting him from his task at hand.

  22. The desk was a small file cabinet with a fold out writing surface with connected legs. An M1952 field desk, sold war surplus after the Korean War. It had seen a year of violence. And now, its spirit felt it had seen the last of its long years of peace.

  23. Inspector Wiley clicked open the first report. Missing person? Missing property? The responding officer had ticked both boxes. A late model companion, short blond hair, jeans, white blouse, last seen in its recharging chair about nine P.M. Could this companion match the body discovered in the river only moments ago?

  24. She’d hid under he desk? How cliched can you get?
    The axe whistled, slamming through the keyboard and into the wooden desktop.
    A satisfying scream issued from the girl as she scurried across the floor. Sneering through his broken teeth, Cletus pulled his axe from the desk. The keyboard came with it, revealing the glowing sigil beneath.
    The broken, glowing sigil.
    A much deeper laugh made Cletus pause.

  25. “John, you started to fade out on me.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “You got transparent. I could faintly see things moving around you.”
    “It’s this new program. It projects you into the target environment right from your desk.”
    “Yeah, but it was taking you and half the office with it.”

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